When Bad CX is the Customer’s Own Fault

By: Kate Zimmerman

October 14, 2015

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In the age of the customer, the customer is often put first and foremost in a business model. While this is generally a good practice (especially in the customer experience management industry), it is not a hard and fast rule. Sometimes, the customer is not right.

We like to hope that most people are inherently good and understand that things can go wrong. But, for anyone who works in customer service, that is most definitely not the case. Oftentimes unhappy customers can become belligerent, put undue stress on your employees, and risk the reputation of your company in front of other customers.

So, what do you do when a customer’s bad attitude is creating a bad experience? Your employees can help turnaround seemingly impossible situations when your customers are hurting themselves.

Don’t Reward Bad Behavior
Oftentimes there is incentive to just give a belligerent customer what they want so that they are no longer a problem. However, doing so just encourages them, and other customers who see this happen, that yelling is a good way to get what they want. The same holds true when you’re dealing with toddlers.

Instead, reward those customers who treat your employees and your business with respect. An airline recently had to delay a flight because a passenger was so upset about their seat assignment. Another passenger offered to switch seats so that the plane could pull away from the gate. The flight attendants then upgraded the accommodating customer to first class, proving to the whole plane that good things do come to good people.

Empower Your Employees
Many times your employees are the only ones that encounter these upset customers. Make sure that you are aware of the problems that they are encountering by having a formalized Voice of the Employee program.

Once you have identified pain points, empower your employees to address these customer concerns. If your billing department is receiving complaints about online billing, they will also be able to share the best a solution to that problem.

Additionally, a Voice of the Employee program is critical to understanding how unhappy customers are affecting your employees. If your call center representatives are constantly being berated, it’s highly unlikely that they are performing at their best. When employee morale is down so is the service that they are providing.

Know When to Cut Ties
It’s important to understand the problems that your employees are facing so you can address them, but also to know when a customer is doing more harm than good. Sometimes, it’s necessary to stand by your company values and standards. If a customer is causing more grief than he/she is worth, then don’t accommodate them.

A customer experience management program can help you address this. Any outliers in complaints, by severity or frequency, could be an indication that an individual is wrong, not you. Looking at all of your data together is important to make sure you know the difference between one extreme customer and a widespread problem.

Most of the time we want to make sure that we are pleasing our customers and doing everything we can to create a positive experience for them. However, it’s important to understand that certain customers are not worth the extra stress they are placing on your employees. Sometimes, a customer is creating their own bad experience. Looking at your customer experience management program as a whole and working with your employees will help you identify these problem-children and know when to move on.

Kate Zimmerman is a Product Marketing Associate at Clarabridge. Kate focuses on building content that supports CX efforts, product marketing, analyst relations, and has become an industry expert in Customer Experience Management. Kate holds a B.A in Politics from the University of Virginia and can be found on Twitter at @kmzimm.